How to Choose a Paralegal School near Waterville Valley New Hampshire
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Waterville Valley NH and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting range of their Waterville Valley homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Waterville Valley NH lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Waterville Valley NH is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in New Hampshire to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations in the profession are:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- American Alliance of Paralegals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Association for Legal Professionals
By graduating with a paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Waterville Valley NH area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Waterville Valley NH law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Waterville Valley NH law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Waterville Valley NH legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with New Hampshire legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in New Hampshire or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Waterville Valley NH area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Waterville Valley NH. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Waterville Valley NH, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Waterville Valley NH?
If you live near Waterville Valley NH or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Waterville Valley, New Hampshire
Waterville Valley attracts many visitors in the winter months with alpine skiing at Waterville Valley Resort and many miles of trails for cross-country skiing. During the summer, attractions include a golf course, tennis courts, and a variety of hiking options. The Mad River flows through the town, providing great views all year round.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 64.9 square miles (168 km2), of which 0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2) is water, comprising 0.05% of the town. The highest point in Waterville Valley is the North Peak of Mount Tripyramid, at 4,180 feet (1,270 m) above sea level.
As of the census of 2000, there were 257 people, 121 households, and 75 families residing in the town. The population density was 4.0 people per square mile (1.5/km²). There were 1,097 housing units at an average density of 16.9 per square mile (6.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.28% White, 1.95% Asian, 0.78% from other races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.56% of the population.
Find the Right Paralegal College near Waterville Valley NH
Choosing the right paralegal training program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Waterville Valley home. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Waterville Valley NH.
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